Packing food boxes, housekeeping at a local pregnancy center, baking cookies, and getting together for fellowship. It might sound like your typical youth group. The folks in this group consider themselves Just Older Youth (JOY) at Peace Christian Reformed church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
The ministry started about five years ago for adults who were available during the day. JOY is not limited to retirees but is for anyone who wants to come out to daytime events, said Marsha Veldhuizen one of the ministry coordinators.
Veldhuizen said, “We alternate [between] a service project and a fun outing.” Each event draws from 12 to 18 participants.
Just like a youth group, this group has been busy packing boxes of food for Hawkeye Area Community Action Program, housekeeping for His Hands Free Medical Clinic and Bridgehaven Pregnancy Support Center, and helping at Habitat for Humanity Restorethrift store. They also help prepare cookies and goodies for the Angel Tree Christmas Party.
Outings have included museums and special exhibits, trips to apple orchards and Amish country, Mississippi riverboat rides, wind turbine tours, and Cedar Rapids Kernels’ baseball games.
And just like a regular youth group, events always include food, said Veldhuizen. The group has discovered many unique local eating establishments, including a restaurant in an old barn, a local culinary school, and restaurants where all food is locally sourced.
“JOY group events are a time when we can have fun in fellowship, we encourage one another, and enjoy serving our greater community,” said Veldhuizen.